Buffs' cross country program enjoys memorable campaign

By Michelle Pope
STAR STAFF
mpope@starhq.com

   The end of Milligan's cross country season has drawn to a close, but not without the Buffaloes showing the nation what they're made of.
   The men's team entered the 28-team tournament as the 28th seed, and the women as the 26th. The runners pushed their way across the line, finishing in the 21st and 22nd spots.
   "I think they really stepped up, because we weren't going to finish 10th," said Milligan cross country coach Chris Layne. This year was the first time the Buffaloes have advance to the NAIA championship as a team.
   "We went in ranked 28th on the men's team and 26th on the women's team," Layne said. "Finishing 21st and 22nd, respectively, was a big step in the right direction. Any time you go to nationals, the goal is to finish wherever you go in."
   Megan Lease, Marta Zimon, and Lauren Gross placed in the women's top 75, with Lease leading the Lady Buffs in a 30th-place finish. Both Lease and Gross set new personal records, finishing at 18:33 and 19:15. Lease was awarded an All-American honor for her performance.
   Freshman Amber Peace and Rachel Carriger came across the line as Milligan's fourth and fifth runners.
   On the men's team, freshman Sean Bowman ran with the big boys, becoming the fourth freshman in the pack to cross the line at a 40th-place finish. Chris Wright followed closely as the 49th runner to finish, followed by junior Trevor Donovan. Jair Collie and Ted Dubois were the next Milligan runners to cross the finish line.
   In addition to the honor of making it to the national competition, Coach Layne was pleased with the results and the way the team adjusted to the added pressure.
   "Anytime you go to nationals, the environment is overwhelming for people that hadn't been before," Layne said. "I really think that was a determining factor. When you're used to running in a field of one hundred all season, and all of a sudden you're running with two hundred, it changes things."